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Issue 27 - December 9, 2007
Table of contents:
Make XP look and behave like Vista:
It couldn't happen to me, could it?
Vista v. XP:
Try a different browser:
Linus speaks!
Christmas gifts:
Uniform Resource Locator:
Keep your passwords safe:

Introduction:[ TOP ]
With Christmas fast approaching I have resolved to do all my seasonal shopping, including the food and drink, online. Many of my friends think I am mad, issuing grave warnings about identity theft and fraud. However, I don't think Amazon, Argos or Sainsburys represent great threats and I won't be using any sites that cannot convince me of their security credentials.

My internet shopping spree was conceived in a spirit of abject laziness, but having embarked on it I have been amazed at the range of goods I can obtain from the comfort of my armchair. Yesterday I bought a goose from a farm in Norfolk. I suspect that my bird is not yet dead, and have visions of it wandering around a farmyard with a ticket bearing my name hung around its neck.

It has also enabled me to buy some interesting presents that I have never seen in high street shops. My daughter is getting an alarm clock with a difference. When the alarm goes off it dives off the bedside table and starts running around the bedroom, forcing the user to get out of bed and catch it.

In this edition we have the usual roundup of news, sites, and downloads. I hope you enjoy it.


Make XP look and behave like Vista:[ TOP ]
If you are one of the many who are reluctant to upgrade to Vista, either because of the cost or the negative feedback concerning resource requirements, but you like the look of it, this is for you.

There are utilities around that will make your XP system look like, and to a certain degree perform like Vista. Vista transformation pack 7 is my favourite but you can get all five here:

One of the 5, Windowblinds, is not specifically designed to give a Vista feel to your system, its a tool for applying different visual theme on your entire current Windows environment: changing overall look and feel, title bars, push buttons, start bar, start menu and more. Well worth a look if you like variety and customised workspace.

It couldn't happen to me, could it?[ TOP ]
Susan Alford is not a criminal. She is not trying to con her bank out of more than $8,000, She is the victim of a simple fraud, but her bank is suing her for the money and claiming she acted criminally.

Susan struck up an online "friendship" with a man who seemed genuine. After a while the man, who was posing as a wealthy businessman, asked her for a "favour". She was to deposit two cheques into her account, withdraw some cash and send it to an orphanage in Nigeria.

Don't you think the introduction of a Nigerian orphanage into this request would have sounded some alarm bells?

The alarm bells didn't ring and Susan was allowed to withdraw $5,000 for each cheque, even though they had not been cleared.

Needless to say the cheques were worthless and Susan is now being hounded with daily phone calls from a heartless woman called Danielle who works for the bank and is demanding repayment.

You can read the full story here:

Is she a criminal?, an innocent victim? or simply a fool who is paying a heavy price for her stupidity?

Vista v. XP:[ TOP ]
Benchmark testing by researchers at Florida-based software development company Devil Mountain has proved conclusively that Windows XP is faster than Vista. No surprises there then!

Try a different browser:[ TOP ]
Internet Explorer is not the only browser, and many people claim it is far from being the best. Firefox is a leading contender for the title "best browser" and you can get it here:

There are several more that all claim to be the fastest, most secure etc. Here is a selection:

If you decide to try any of these you could help us all by providing feedback on their performance. Send your reviews to

Linus speaks![ TOP ]
Linus Torvalds, the creator of Linux, has been gazing into his crystal ball and foreseeing the developments in the world of open source. He says (among other things):

"I think the real strength of Linux is not in any particular area, but in the flexibility. For example, you mention virtualization, and in some ways that's a really excellent example, because it's not only an example of something where Linux is a fairly strong player, but more tellingly, it's an example where there are actually many different approaches, and there is no one-size-fits-all "One True Virtualization" model."

I think that means they do not have a plan and simply hope that the hundreds of programmers working on the project end up with something that works.

If you like articles that are full of technobabble and lack real information this one is for you:

Christmas gifts:[ TOP ]
Christmas is coming the geese are getting fat, and at this time of year we will be exchanging gifts with our families and friends. Wouldn't it be fascinating to be able to give a gift (money is no object) to some of the leading lights in the world of computers.

What would you give Bill Gates? Linus Torvald? Chris Pirillo?

If you have any gift ideas for these supergeeks (or anyone else) please share them by emailing

Uniform Resource Locator:[ TOP ]
The address you type or paste into the address bar on your browser is a Uniform Resource Locator (URL)
If you want to know more, go here:

And if you ever wish a URL you were working with was shorter, use this little gem:

Keep your passwords safe:[ TOP ]
We are told never to write our passwords down. Great advice, except that if you forget a password there is no way to retrieve it. Now you can write your passwords down and keep them hidden from prying eyes.

KeePass is a free/open-source password manager or safe which helps you to manage your passwords in a secure way.

You can put all your passwords in one database, which is locked with one master key or a key-disk. So you only have to remember one single master password or insert the key-disk to unlock the whole database. The databases are encrypted using the best and most secure encryption algorithms currently known.

You can get this and many more free downloads by logging in at and heading to our downloads section.

Credits[ TOP ]
Editor Phil Dodd

Thanks to:
Victor Gascon for allowing me to steal his material.

Bill Gates for continuing to produce products that seldom work perfectly, thus keeping in business.

Linux developers all over the world, without whom computing would lack any humour.

5,800 copies of this newsletter have been distributed.

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